Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Build your own obstacle-avoiding beetle robot

Why not build a capable little beetle robot that can scurry about and avoid obstacles? The really cool thing about it is that the behavior is all hard-wired and/or mechanical -- no computer or programming required. The parts are easy to find too!

Here's a link to the Instructable on How to Build The BeetleBot.

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Monday, March 29, 2010

Make this charmingly disagreeable machine

Check out this wonderful little motorized contraption that simple does NOT want to be on.

If you are inclined to make one, or learn more about it, there is a full instructable on how to build what they call "The Most Useless Machine EVER!". (I don't agree with the name of the device; entertainment and laughter are far from useless.)

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Thursday, March 25, 2010

Industrial and Scientific supplies from Amazon

Amazon isn't just for books anymore! Tools, fasteners, supplies, parts, materials -- even brass gears -- can all be found in their online store.

Check out the extensive Industrial and Scientific section of their online store.

Among the many categories included:
* Abrasives
* Adhesives
* Bearings
* Cutting Tools
* Electronic Components
* Fasteners
* Fittings
* Hardware
* Hoses
* Industrial Hand Tools
* Janitorial
* Lab & Scientific
* Linear Motion
* Materials
* Material Handling
* Measurement & Inspection
* Metalworking
* Motors
* O-Rings
* Pipe
* Power Transmission
* Pumps
* Safety
* Soldering, Brazing, Welding & Heating
* Tapes
* Tubing
* Valves

Here's a link to Amazon's Industrial and Scientific supply section.

[ Thanks Caleb! ]

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Thursday, March 18, 2010

Book: Plans from (Vol. 1)

Book: Plans from (Volume 1)
An interesting woodworking book, with scalable designs. The designs look very clean.

From the book description:
This book features woodworking projects at three different skill levels. They include materials list, tools and step-by-step assembly instructions. What makes our philosophy unique is that all our blueprints are completely measurement free which means you can build them to whatever scale you wish using only the thickness of the wood as your guide. This book includes the following models: Abacus, Bird Feeder, Bird House, Bread Box, Brontosaurus, Dolphin Future Car, Parasaurolophus, Pen and Pencil Holder, Portraits, Ring Stacking Game, Showcase, Stegosaurus, Table Protector, Tower of Hanoi, Wood Stacking Game, Abstract Bank, Chessboard, Crab, Cutting Board, Pterodactyl, Medieval Castle Walls, Platform Crane, and Straddle Carrier

Here is more info on Top Sellers (Volume 1)

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Sunday, July 26, 2009

Cogitate - online engineering puzzle game

Cogitate - engineering video game with gears
Cogitate is an engineering problem solving online game. The object is to place beams, gears, and motors on the stage in order to guide the golden cog to the target. Each piece you use to engineer your solution has a price, so you have to try to come up with the most cost-efficient one for each level.

Here's a link to the free online engineering game called Cogitate.

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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The mobiles and automata of Steve DeSpirito

The mobiles and automata of Steve DeSpirito
Artist Steve DeSpirito creates hanging mobiles that use a balance between gravity and gentle air currents to add life and motion to his pieces.

From the artist's statement:
I like to think of my mobiles as a reminder that although life is ever-changing, one can always find beauty and joy in it. All one needs to do is stay balanced and bend slightly with the breeze.

Quite so. He has also created a few hand cranked automata like the one shown above entitled "Winged Thingy".

Check out all of the kinetic art by Steve DeSpirito on his new blog.

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Monday, June 15, 2009

New site for the magical automata of Pierre Mayer

The magical automata of Pierre Mayer
My friend, collegue, and hero -- Pierre Mayer -- has a new web site featuring his amazing work! He specializes in contemporary wood automata that perform magical illusions. Be sure to check it out!

See all of Pierre Mayer's magic automata on is new web site.

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Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Proxxon model-maker's power tools store section

Proxxon tool model-maker's power tools store
I am the proud owner of two Proxxon tools -- the miniature table saw and the miniature mitre saw. As someone who works with small-scale pieces of wood and metal, I am a big fan of this company's products. The Automata / Automaton Store now features an entire section dedicated to Proxxon tools. If you are serious about model-making and are looking for high quality power tools that are the right size for the job, look no further.

Check out the Proxxon Power Tool section of The Automata / Automaton Store.

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Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Authoratative web site on singing bird automata

schematic of a singing bird mechanism
Falk Keuten of the Spiel und Kunst mit Mechanik blog informs me that -- run by from Detlef Knick of Berlin, Germany -- is the most comprehensive site on the web on topic of singing bird automata. The site is in German only, but has many wonderful photos and diagrams. Shown here is a schematic of a singing bird mechanism. If you can read German, I am envious!

Visit the Singvogel-Automaten page for more on singing bird automata.

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Thursday, May 21, 2009

Free gear theory manual PDF from Boston Gear

Free gear theory PDF courtesy of Boston Gear
Boston Gear offers an overview of gear theory in the form of a free 5.5MB PDF file.

From the gear theory download page
This engineering information explains gear nomenclature, tooth formulas, backlash, tooth strength, torque and horsepower requirements and other standard gear selection formulas. Our Gear Theory Manual is a must for anyone who frequently deals with gearing in mechanical components.

Here's the link to the free gear theory PDF courtesy of Boston Gear.

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Friday, May 08, 2009

GEARS video game teaches mechanical thinking

GEARS video game teaches mechanical thinking
The object of the free online game called "GEARS" is to get the end gear rotating in the correct direction. The end gear is the blight blue gear. You can tell which direction the gear should rotate by the arrow.

For gears to rotate they must be attached to the start gear. The start gear is the gear with the Robot in the middle.

You add new gears to the machine by dragging them into place. Once all of the necessary gears are in place, click the start gear to set the machine in motion.

Here is a link to the GEARS video game.

[ Thanks Andrew! ]

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Saturday, April 25, 2009

Mechanisms 101 - online resources for devices

Mechanisms 101 -  online resources for devices
Here is a great site with resources on various types of mechanisms. There are many great animations, some of which are interactive so you can plug your own numbers into the system and see the results.

Mechanisms 101 has animations and information about: linkages, indexing mechanisms, gears, pumps, couplings, pneumatic systems, electronics, and many miscellaneous mechanical things. You will need the Flash player plug-in for your browser to see most of these great resources.

Here the link to Mechanisms 101.

[ Thanks Steve! ]

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Sunday, April 12, 2009

Automta in antiquity article from SPIEGEL Online

Automta in antiquity article from Speigel Online
The German magazine SPIEGELhas published an article on automata in antiquity. least that's what I believe it is about. I cannot read German. Nevertheless, they have a number of wonderful drawings and photographs that accompany the article.

Once again the credit must go to Spiel und Kunst mit Mechanik for finding this great resource.

Shown above is a diagram of Hero of Alexandria's clever method for automatically opening temple doors. The fire in the pot, creates pressure in the large water tank. This causes water to spill into the bucket, the weight of which works against the counterweight to rotate the vertical axle attached to the temple door. Very clever. Done with the right amount of ceremony, this must have seemed very magical indeed to the ancient Greeks.

Here is a link to the photoset associated with the article. If you are able to read German, you might also like to read the original article on automata in antiquity.

[ Thanks once again to Falk Keuten! ]

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Saturday, February 07, 2009

How to build a moder's vacuum sanding box

How to build a moder's sanding box
Here is an extremely complete step-by-step guide for making your own vacuum sanding box for small projects. The eight page guide includes a discussion of tools, materials, shortcuts, 3D renderings, and complete plans you can download in PDF format! This sanding box will be a valuable addition to any workshop where small parts are made.

Here's the link for the guide on How to build a moder's sanding box.

[ Thanks to bilagaana for this!]

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Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Dancing dog with a chicken on his head

Dancing dog with a chicken on his head
Here's a fun looking automaton featuring a dancing dog. With a chicken. On its head.

From the automaton description:
If you can imagine a dog who had one too many at the local bar and ended up in the 'Dance with a Chicken' contest. When you turn the handle on this automata, the loosely jointed dog dances on the stage and the chicken turns on his head! Measures about 4 X 15 X 11 inches tall.

Check out this and several other automata from the Blue Bell Folk Art web site.

[ Thanks Charles! ]

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Monday, January 19, 2009

Primer video on some woodcarving tools & ideas

Though the subject of this video is about carving wooden masks, the advice and tools are the same for any type of woodcarving. In this installment of the series, LaCharles James walks us through some key ideas and introduces some common carving tools.

I think you will find him to be an excellent teacher.

Some of the tools mentioned in the video include:

Carving knife with concave blade
Flexcut carving tools
Carving chisels and gouges
Carving mallet
The classic chip carving knife

A note about carving tools: Choose quality over quantity. Choose quality over price. Believe me, a poor quality tool will not hold an edge, won't produce the best results, will frustrate you, and can be dangerous because you may be inclined to use more force than necessary. Look for good quality metals from known brands. It is SO worth it.

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Thursday, December 25, 2008

Musical Wonder House in Wiscasset, Maine

Musical Wonder House in Wiscasset, Maine
The Musical Wonder House, located in Wiscasset, Maine, is a unique museum featuring more than 5000 restored musical boxes, player grand pianos and organs, spring-wound phonographs, musical birds, porcelains, furniture, clocks, steins, whistlers, a musical painting, and 23 antique coin-operated machines.

The collection is housed in a 32-room mansion dating to 1852. They have an impressive gift shop and -- for the serious collector -- they offer a selection of restored antique musical boxes for sale.

Here is a link to the website of the Musical Wonder House and here is were you can take a virtual tour of the Musical Wonder House.

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Thursday, December 11, 2008

Sale at - Rebate

The Geeks have been busy searching the universe for the most unique and interesting products available. With the holidays around the corner has some offers with extra "geek appeal" like the one below. The have tons of great gizmos, spy gadgets, and a variety of mechanical toys.

Save $5 to $10 on Orders of $25 to $50 or more!
Here is one offer in which you get $5 off of orders of $25 or more!

That's a good discount.

For this offer, use the discount code "BRAINS".

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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Toys, Robots, and Steampunk gifts - from MAKE

Toys, robots and gifts - from keen minds at MAKE
I'm hoping to offer a list of my own for mechanical toy gifts, but in the meantime I am duty-bound to point you to MAKE magazine's outstanding blog and the suggestions they have already compiled.

Here is their Top 10 unexpected toys.

Here is their excellent Holiday Gift Guide to Robots.

Here is their Steampunk Gift Guide for 2008.

In general, the items in their online store -- The Maker Shed -- are very well chosen and bound to stimulate technical discovery. You can't really go wrong there.

Keep up the good work, MAKE!

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Thursday, November 27, 2008

Vollis Simpson's windmill-powered whirligigs

Some time ago, I posted a YouTube video about Vollis Simpson, a man who has made a park full of windmills and whirligigs. There is a great web site with more about the man behind it all. The site also features a detailed virtual tour of his wind-powered mechanical park.

Here's a link to From Windmills to Whirligigs brought to us by the Science Museum of Minnesota.

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Thursday, November 20, 2008

100 Blogs That Will Make You Smarter - Here!

The Automata / Automaton Blog was recently included in a list of "100 Blogs That Will Make You Smarter". Our humble blog is in some fine company in the "Do It Yourself" section of the list.

Do It Yourself

  1. Make: Blog. Learn how to make some seriously cool stuff with this blog from the popular Make Magazine.
  2. Instructables Community Blog. Find out how to make the world’s largest pinata or test your Instructables knowledge with a quiz on this blog.
  3. Hacks Blog. Make a cake in a coffee mug, a Linux-controlled power switch, or play backed-up Wii games with the information here.
  4. DIY City Blog. Independent artists with a DIY flair share their ideas that range from knitted hats to hand-made jewelry.
  5. DIY Audio Projects. From vacuum tubes to subwoofers, this blog will help you build your own audio projects.
  6. The Automata/Automaton Blog. If you are interested in making or collecting automata or mechanical toys, this blog will provide you with plenty of information.
  7. DIY Woodworking, Home Improvement, and Art Projects. From building a guitar to installing a toilet, learn how to do it all here.
  8. Gizmodo. Learn to see in 3D or read about the latest tech gadgets at this blog.
  9. Hacked Gadgets. Learn to make your computer control an LCD display or create a beer cooler lock down on this blog.
  10. Chic Knits. Get your knit on with this blog that offers suggestions, tips, photos, and more to help you knit stuff worth wearing."
Here the link to full list of 100 Blogs That Will Make You Smarter at

[ Thanks Kelly! ]

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Monday, November 17, 2008

Theriault's automata auction book with essays

Theriault's automata auction book with essays
Even if you do not bid on a gorgeous antique automaton or attend Theriault's upcoming automata auction, you can still own a piece of this event in the form the auction catalog.

The catalog -- a hardcover book, really -- features a hologram of the "Kneeling Egyptian Harpist" on the front. Of course, the book contains detailed descriptions for the 150+ fine automata that are in the auction. But it goes far beyond being just a catalog because it also features a series of essays on various common automata themes. The essays deal with the great outdoors, exoticism, spectacle, theater, and occupational themes.

I am told that there is something for everyone here -- including magic automata, very complex clock automata, and the earliest animated window displays.

Here is where you can order Theriault's auction catalogs, including the one for the upcoming automata auction.

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Monday, November 03, 2008

More details on heart-shaped gear assembly

I posted the other day about this amazing heart composed of moving gears.

At the time, I was quite uncertain about the material used. One commenter said that it was papercraft, and would appear to be correct.

I am told that the artist was a winner in a world karakuri contest back in 2005.

I see also that the artist has made a piece similar to the heart in the form of a cube. Video of the cube can be seen here if you have the right plug-in.

The artist, Haruki Nakamura, also does other forms of paper-craft including illustration, models, and impressive 3 dimensional tessellations.

See more from the artist on Haruki Nakamura's web site.

[ Thanks philsing and PINO! ]

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Thursday, October 16, 2008

And Now a Word from Our Sponsor....Batdog! has tons of Halloween costumes and is offering free shipping for orders over $25. They have:
  • Women's costumes
  • Men's costumes
  • Girl's Costumes
  • Boy's costumes
  • Baby costumes

Would you believe they even sell costumes for DOGS? Shown here: Batdog?

Here is a link to Amazon's Halloween Costumes Store.

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Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Patent for Greeting Card with Motion System

I've done a bunch of post this year about Hallmark's new line of hand-cranked animated greeting cards. First, there was the batch I bought and posted. Another gallery of animated cards came courtesy of a kindly reader. A video of one of the best cards also turned up. Thanks to Joe Freedman, The Automata / Automaton Blog was first to offer an online exclusive look at the inner workings.

Joe's thirst for knowledge uncovered another fascinating item: the patent for the animated greeting cards. Titled GREETING CARD MOTION SYSTEM WITH MODULAR DESIGN, the patent is full of diagrams...many depicting card designs I have yet to see on the store shelves. (Note: There are some new designs out for Halloween, 2008!)

Some automata of old were patented, but it must not have proved to be worth the effort. Many designs were not patented and the European makers of the last century copied each other with abandon.

Check out the full online version of the patent for the GREETING CARD MOTION SYSTEM WITH MODULAR DESIGN.

[ Thanks to Joe Freedman of The Sarabande Press! ]

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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Article on "Automata: A Fascinating Woodcraft"

Charles Mak is a woodworker, automata-maker, writer, and true friend of The Automata / Automaton Blog. The first of his two-part article on automata is now available online at the Lee Valley Tools web site.

In the article, the author describes contemporary automata, gives an overview of their history, and introduces the reader to the process of making wood automata. He concludes this first installment with some great suggestions for further reading and some useful online resources. Stay tuned for the second part of the article in an upcoming woodworking newsletter!

Here is the link to the article Automata: A Fascinating Woodcraft, by Charles Mak.

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Thursday, September 11, 2008

Nemo Gould: New Robot Art

New Robot Work by Nemo Gould
The fantastically talented robotic sculptor, Nemo Gould, has just added some new work to his online portfolio.

You can also catch up on his news page to read about the process behind these pieces, as well as various other things such as studio visits with fellow artists, photos from his recent openings, and more.

Visit Nemo Gould's Portfolio page for the latest additions. Here is the link to his News page.

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Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The Spaghetti Eater Automaton by Paul Spooner

Here is a Paul Spooner classic entitled The Spaghetti Eater.

See this and other Paul Spooner automata at the Cabaret Mechanical Theatre online shop.

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Friday, September 05, 2008

New Blog: "Play and Art with Mechanics"

Spiel und Kunst mit MechanikI am please to inform you that Hanns-Martin Wagner and Falk Keuten -- both experts on mechanical sculpture -- have started a new blog entitled "Spiel und Kunst mit Mechanik" which translates roughly as "Play and Art with Mechanics".

They plan to feature content about all things related to mechanical toys and Kinetic Art including: automata, machine art, outsider art with mechanical actions, whirligigs, rolling ball sculptures, nonsense machines (like Rube Goldberg machines), chain reactions, the history of machines, sound sculptures, mechanical music, coin operated machines, vending machines, and paper engineering.

Sounds delightful!

Here is a link to Spiel und Kunst mit Mechanik (Play and Art with Mechanics).

[ Congratulations Hanns-Martin and Falk! ]

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Sunday, August 31, 2008

Cabaret Mechanical Theatre - Automata Website!

There are many notable figures who helped to bring automata as an art form into the latter part of of the Twentieth Century. Among them are Alexander Calder, Sam Smith, Jean Tinguely, Frank Nelson, and Rodney Peppé, and Falk Keuten.

Cabaret Mechanical Theatre, its creators, and its artists also deserve very special recognition in defining and popularizing contemporary automata as an art form. They have just launched a redesigned web site that is full of great information, both old and new.

Here is a link to Cabaret Mechanical Theatre's new web site. Enjoy!

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Saturday, August 30, 2008

Automaton Maker Carlos Zapata - New Website

Laughing man automaton by Carlos Zapata
Automaton maker Carlos Zapata has a new website which has what looks to be a complete history of all his work. There are tons of photographs of his automata and many are animated.

Shown here is a hand-cranked automaton titled Laughing man, 2008 (6 inches high, wood and metal).

Check out all the automata by Carlos Zapata on his web site.

[ Thanks David! ]

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Sunday, August 03, 2008

Quercetti Super Marble Run Vortex Building Toy

Quercetti Super Marble Run Vortex
This affordable set allows you to build a large marble run. Called the Quercetti Super Marble Run Vortex set, it features 220 pieces including 2 double entrance funnels, 3 spirals, extra long bridges, and a sturdy base. The set is adaptable, so your marble run can be reconfigured based on your own designs.

Check out the Quercetti Super Marble Run Vortex and other fun marble run construction toys at Kazoo Toys.

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Thursday, July 31, 2008

Another Amazing Tin Toy Online Store

I posted a while back about The Wound & Wound Toy Company that sells wind-up and tin toys. A kindly reader shared another store with me that has an even bigger selection: Aaron's TinTinArcade

They specialize in tin toys, vintage gifts, and old fashioned wind up toys. They have carousels, circus toys, wind up animals, classic tin toy collectibles, robots, rockets, and retro Japanese reproductions.

Shown here is "Mr. D-Cell". The robot walks forward, then his upper body rotates around three times, and his chest panels open up to reveal guns that then start shooting!

Visit Aaron's TinTinArcade.

[ Thanks Shel! ]

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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Tin toys, Wind-up Toys, and Music Boxes Store

The Wound & Wound Toy Company has tons of great wind-up toys, tin toys, and music boxes. They have a very extensive product line, including the classic the string-climbing monkey for about $16 USD.

On the more exotic side, they even have a wind-up lithographed tin Boba Fett. Made in Japan and standing at about 9.5 inches tall, this one will set you back around $250 USD. This item is a bit of an exception; most of their products are very affordable.

Boba Fett Wind Up Tin Toy
A note about their site navigation: once you click on a given section (say "Tin Collectibles"), you need to go to the bottom of the page to find the link for the next set of items in that category. Look for the circles with numbers in them.

Check out all the wind-up toys, tin toys, and music boxes at The Wound & Wound Toy Company.

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Saturday, July 05, 2008

Les Raisons des Forces Mouvantes, 1615

Les Raisons des Forces Mouvantes was a book written by the French engineer Salomon de Caus (1576 - 1626). Salomon de Caus was known for his work as a garden-architect and hydraulic engineer. His designs incorporated mechanical fountains, mechanical music, and automata. His interest in these mechanical devices may have been influenced by the recovery of ancient texts by Hero of Alexandria around this time.
Automaton by Salomon de Caus
One of his books detailing the workings of many automata is now available in digital form online courtesy of Le Conservatoire numérique des Arts & Métiers (CNUM). His treatise from 1615 entitled Les Raisons des Forces Mouvantes, avec diverses machines tant utiles que puissantes, auxquelles sont adjoints plusieurs dessings de grotes & fontaines has been digitized.

Even if you don't speak 400-year-old French, there are dozens of excellent illustrations that are a testament to the ingenious mind of Salomon de Caus.

Here is a link to the digital version of Les Raisons des Forces Mouvantes.

Thanks Falk!

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Thursday, July 03, 2008

Magnets and Magnetic Toys in One Place

Earlier this week I announced that a Solar-Powered Toys section was added to The Automata / Automaton Store. While working on the new section, I realized I had overlooked more than one important category of mechanical toy.

So, without further ado, I would like to inform you that there is now another new section devoted entirely to Magnets and Magnetic Toys. It turned out to be a surprisingly big section! Shown here is a levitating top made with cherry wood. Magnets, rotational motion, wood, levitation...OK, this meets and surpasses my criteria for cool.

As with the Solar Toys section, the new Magnetic Toys section can be found under the main heading of Mechanical Toys in the left side navigation list of the store.

Visit the The Automata / Automaton Store to check out the huge selection of magnet-based toys.

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Tuesday, July 01, 2008

New Site & Work by Automata Maker Tom Haney

Tom Haney's Automaton: Tinguely's Dream
Automata artist Tom Haney has redesigned his web site. The new site features 4 of the pieces that will be in his show at Mason Murer Fine Arts in September. They can be found under 'New Work' section. He has added a dozen or more "in-progress" photographs for each piece. The new movies on his site are now in Flash, so means they load and play faster than the old format.

All of his old pieces can be found in the 'Archives' section.

Visit to see Tom's new site and new work.

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Monday, June 30, 2008

Solar Powered Mechanical Toys and Gadgets

Solar toys and gadgets at the Automata Store
There is now an entirely new section just added to The Automata / Automaton Store that features solar-powered toys, gadgets, and education kits. The number of cool solar toys and other useful products has increased dramatically in the last few years. This is not only a good idea, but great fun.

You can find the section under the 'Mechanical Toys' heading, then click on 'Solar Toys'. Let us know if you have any of these and how you like them. Enjoy!

Visit The Automata / Automaton Store to check out the solar toys section.

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Thursday, May 22, 2008

Collector Beware: Fake Monkey Automaton Details

Automata are intricate and complex, a blend of engineering and artistry. It's hard to imagine that they could be faked. But,whether contemporary or antique, automata are valuable. And where there is money, there are counterfeits.

Below is information from a forum post written back in 2002 regarding a phony monkey automaton. The post was written by Jere Ryder of AutaMusique, Ltd. in Summit, NJ.

He reports that in recent years there has been an influx of deceptively old-looking automata into the international marketplace. These are not restored pieces, but fakes.

These automata have some elements in common:

1 - They are purposely constructed so as to prevent internal inspection.

2 - Most have a fairly large, old-looking maker's label glued to the rear panel. Some of these are quite ingenious and convincing.

3 - A variety of older materials may be used in the automaton, but hidden parts contain modern materials such as new pine, particle-board, and modern synthetic fibers.

4 - Many are driven by a simple, small, 1-tune, 18-note Sankyo musical movement.

Here is the link to the original article on the Fake Monkey Automatons.

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Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Make A Snake Mechanical Wooden Automaton Kit

Make A Snake Mechanical Wooden Automaton KitI've been finding a lot of fun mechanical toys and gadgets over at lately. Most recently, I was delighted to discover this wood automaton kit of a snake in motion.

From Edmund Scientifics:
"The handle turns the cam shaft and the eccentric shaped cams push the rods up. This shows how a circular turning motion can be converted into an up-and-down movement. The cams can be repositioned on the shaft to change the movement of the snake."

The kit comes complete with everything your need to build the automaton except a screwdriver to put it together. Here is a 16-Piece Precision Screwdriver Set with everything you might need for delicate projects.

Here's the product page for the Make A Snake Mechanical Wooden Automaton Kit.

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Saturday, May 17, 2008

Mechanical Toys Overview Multimedia CD

Mechanical Toys Overview Multimedia CDA dedicated reader of The Automata / Automaton Blog, has passed along info about this multimedia educational CD-ROM about mechanical toys.

Basic Principles of Mechanisms
Structured to encourage students to conduct their own investigations into the basic principles of mechanisms, this learning aid covers:
Mechanical Toys
* Types of motion
* Cams and followers
* Levers and linkages
* Pulley systems
* Gear systems
* Technical vocabulary

Mechanical Toys Overview Multimedia CD screen shotEducational Models
Combining these topic areas with detailed analyzes of 21 real-life automata, Focus on Mechanical Toys delivers a comprehensive educational package that's equally useful as a teaching aid, learning resource or research tool.

Interactive Animations
High quality 3D animations are available in addition to the photographic images, written descriptions and videos of each toy's mechanical structure. Each animation can be paused at any time and the on-screen image copied and pasted into a word processing or DTP program for inclusion in students' design folders.

They offer a free download demo on their site -- with some functionality disabled. Much can be learned from the free demo (Windows only).

Here is the product page for the Mechanical Toys Overview Multimedia CD.

Note: You might also consider's Mechanisms Offline download.

[Thanks bhaaluu!]

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Friday, May 09, 2008

Graphic Novel about The Turk Chess Automaton

Clockwork Game: The Illustrious Career of a Chess-playing AutomatonClockwork Game is a graphic dramatization of the historical events surrounding one of the famous automata known as The Turk. Constructed by Hungarian nobleman Wolfgang von Kempelen, The Turk amazed audiences for decades on several continents by playing (and besting) many human competitors at the game of chess. Or, did it...?

Written and illustrated by Jane Irwin, a new installment of Clockwork Game is available every Thursday. Not only is this true story captivating, it is well-illustrated in a crosshatched pen-and-ink style. The graphic novel will ultimately be available in many formats including print.

The Clockwork Game web site has a wealth of great information about The Turk.

Here's were you can start to read Clockwork Game from the beginning.

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